Riley Baxter, a four-year-old model dubbed ‘Smiley Riley’, has just landed jobs with Mothercare and the Jools Oliver Little Bird range.
His huge smile has earned him a great reputation in the fashion industry, and his parents, Stuart and Kirsty, say it brings joy to everyone who sees his photographs.
They had been worried Riley would be the victim of bullying, because he has Down’s syndrome, but have been overwhelmed by the public support for his fledgling career.
He is now represented by Zebedee Models and his parents are so proud of everything he’s achieved both for himself and for the mission to break down commonly held myths about his condition.
Dad Stuart said:
After we were told he had Down Syndrome I cried, not for the case that I would love him any less but just knowing how cruel the world can be.
That was the first thing that went through my mind but obviously my perceptions were wrong, and wow how wrong I was.
There was the fear of the unknown and why this had happened to us, but if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been upset at all.
Riley’s dad said his achievements are made that much more special knowing how hard his son has worked to get to this point.
Riley was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome just after he was born and initially struggled to feed, needing a nose tube to give him nutrients every four hours.
Riley was born non-verbal but has now worked hard on his Makaton sign language – so much so he can speak in two sentence phrases.
Four years on, his dad says, it’s a delight to see people seeing his trademark smile before they see his Down’s syndrome.
Speaking of his nickname, Stuart said of his son:
We have called him ‘Smiley Riley’ from a young age, because he makes people really happy and seeing his smile gives people a pick-me-up on a bad day.
He loves the camera. You say pose and he will make this little pout followed by sticking his tongue out.
In the photo shoots they want the children to act natural and naturally he’s a very happy little boy, so it’s brilliant.
Congratulations to Smiley Riley on his modelling successes so far… Watch this space!
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A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.